The Italian government is going to have to cough up significant and real concessions, if it somehow expects the company to maintain the current workforce. So will the unions. Pay CUTS will be required.
Realistically, though, the market for the furniture NTZ produces has changed, and so must NTZ. This is like GM maintaining the much derided "jobs bank." NTZ really needs to shed these workers, and they need to find a place in the Italian economy where they can produce goods and services that people want. The time for wage reductions, and other adjustments, to keep NTZ competitive, and protect all those Italian jobs was 5-8 years ago. Unions are always so greedy, and mistrusting of management, that they just try to keep the "gravy train" going as long as possible, even if it seriously damages, or even destroys, the business model of the "host" that that the unions are parasitically "feasting" upon. Natuzzi has been losing money for 7 years. It's a crime that something more drastic wasn't done sooner....especially considering all the market share that has been lost, due to our company's cost inefficiencies, producing furniture in Italy.
I am relieved that NTZ has finally gotten "religion," and that they realize that there will be no Natuzzi, in 5 years, if major restructuring of operations does not occur.
As a long time union member and investor , I take exception to your description of unions as greedy. People that work for a living deserve a wage that can provide an individual , let alone a family a decent wage. Do you have any idea how much Natuzzi pays its workers and how it compares to other workers in the same business?. Sometimes there is reason to mistrust management. How do workers wages compare to management pay? As you know from other companies you have invested in, nepotism and cronyism play a big part in a small family run businesses. Please consider workers as an asset of a company before you make such statements. Always with love,
I just had to sign in to say this: I got super confused when I saw this post. I thought to myself, "I don't remember posting this message, maybe yahoo is broken." Then I realized what was going on.
As far as NTZ goes, the CEO hasn't been taking ANY salary, the last couple years, and I know him well enough, based upon the way he talks, and the pride he takes in the company he has built up, that he cares very much about all the employees, and took great pride in providing livings in southern Italy, for thousands of people. But the fact of the matter is that a company cannot be run as a "charity." IT WILL GO BANKRUPT! Nattuzzi will have lost money for 7 consecutive years, and its Italian-based labor is simply no longer competitive, as people across the globe are NOT willing to pay the premium that they used to for "Italian traditional hand-craftsman made" moniker. They're just not. It's a tough thing when you compete with non-living wage labor, black market labor, etc., but Pasquale Natuzzi has a choice, and that is to get the company back to a self-sustaining mode, to shut it down, liquidiate it, and return the remaining asset value to the owners of the assets, to burn through all the remaining asset value, in the name of the employees, go bankrupt, and then shut down, or to do what is needed to return the company to a place so that it truly is "adding value" for its potential customers, and has a valid business model again. You can't stick your head in the sand, and frankly, Mr. Natuzzi had done that for at least a few years...even if it was for the most noblest of reasons (a commitment to his work force). Times have changed. You have to face, in the end, that labor is a huge % of this company's costs, and that, not only is the company carrying too many people (a la the GM "jobs bank), even though its sales are down by roughly 50% from the peak, but it now needs to install production methods that increase efficiencies, and (admittedly sadly), eviscerate the tradition of hand-crafting that the CEO and company founder has taken so much pride in, over the 54 yr history of "his" company. Bottom line: Italian labor is noncompetitive in this market.
Beloved related (uncle),
Of course I didn't write this to "get you to reply." I wasn't thinking of you when I wrote it, because I was trying to make a broader point. That point was exaggerated for effect. (Indeed, I always say never say "never" and never say "always," and I didn't follow my own maxim.) The modern union has served effects that are more destructive than positive. The founding of unions was based on something absolutely noble. A yahoo message board is not the place to get into that philosophical discussion of how "collective bargaining" can be viewed as "price fixing" for labor (when it goes too far, as with the U.S. auto makers and steel industry, for many years), thereby watching whole industries evaporate before our eyes, because of, yes, greedy, unions, that are not willing to work, hand in hand, with the owners of the business, to secure both their, and the owners', long term interests. The willingness of the UAW, in particular, to parasitically feed off of their hosts, for years, when the writing was on the wall of global compeition, ended up, in the end, sending a ton of jobs that could have STILL been high paying, out of the U.S. "Deserving" a living wage may very well be a canard. Who, in the end, is supposed to "guarantee" this kind of thing...and what are the consequences to such "deserving," in terms of giving people who work self-respect and EARNING their keep. Unions, at many times, haven't seemed to care about that, because they became embroiled in an "us vs. them" mentality that destroyed corporations, over time. Yes, management can and is "bad," as well, and people who give of their life to an employer deserve to be treated with respect, and, ideally, find a place where they can "contribute" and "find meaning" for a lifetime. Anyway, as I said, that is a broader discussion. I did not mean to paint all unions as bad...just the greedy and self-serving ones...which we have, indeed seen. Faithfully...